The double standard of looking good
By Katherine Rausch
People today are doing anything and everything to look young and beautiful. Women are using anti-aging cosmetics, dying their hair (even when it’s not graying) and resorting to plastic surgery. Although it’s not in the forefront of the media, men are doing the same things.
While college students are not as concerned with looking young as others, they are still obsessed with beauty. Women in college wear make-up, use facial masks and shave. Men are wearing body sprays, using lotions and applying hair gel. Although women are stereotyped as the beauty obsessed gender, men also work on their looks.
There are countless websites devoted to men’s beauty products, including tips and articles. Sites like TimetoSpa.com and Sephora.com have their own shops for men. They sell cleansers, masks and moisturizers geared specifically to the male population. A list of the top 25 products for men included cleansing pore strips, foot spray, shampoo for hair loss, microdermabrasion and muscle rub massage oil.
At Ithaca College, it seems men are either not using these products or don’t want to admit they do. Juan Duchimaza, a junior computer science and chemistry major, admits to wearing hair gel occasionally and using lotion. Duchimaza believes men pay more attention to their looks than they’ll let on.
“I think there’s a lot out there that men use that could be categorized as cosmetics that they don’t want to call that,” Duchimaza says. “Why men cut their hair, cut their nails, shave and even brush their teeth is to look good.”
Talking to a few students, I found men use mainly the basic products offered, and most don’t leave the house without using at least deodorant or body spray. They don’t seem to be buying the exfoliating products or pore strips, but they do care about their appearance.
“If I’m satisfied with how I look it will show off with my personality,” Duchimaza says. “So on days when I choose to dress up and look nice and people tell me I look nice, I’m like, ‘Yeah I know.’”
This isn’t cockiness, Duchimaza says, but self-confidence. Why do women wear make-up or use moisturizers? Beauty is self-confidence and also a big part of our society. It is not just about looking good for your self-esteem but also about looking professional. Senior biochemistry major Josh Roaf doesn’t spend too much time getting ready but still thinks personal care is important.
“For the most part it’s so that people will take me seriously,” Roaf says. “People do judge from first appearances, so that’s really the only thing I consider and worry about.”
One product common among men in college is Axe body spray¾a popular commercialized deodorant and cologne. The commercials for Axe consist of a man using the spray and then, as a result, beautiful young women flocking to him. Roaf uses Axe but says it has nothing to do with the commercials.
“I actually change through the different scents a lot, but usually when I get a compliment on one I tend to stay with it more,” he says.
Junior journalism major Matt Biddle recognizes there is pressure for men to look well put together.
“I feel like you are supposed to look good but look like you didn’t really try to look good,” Biddle says. This double standard can get frustrating and confusing.
The average Joe is expected to have nice hair, look clean-shaven or well trimmed, and dress well while exerting as little effort as possible. Duchimaza says it is something that you come to expect¾to take care of yourself and use these products. However, there are different expectations for women and men.
“I feel for guys and girls there’s a different scale,” Biddle says. “A high-maintenance guy is probably still like a medium maintenance kind of girl.”
There are men out there who are probably just as high maintenance as some extreme girls, but it seems the majority of men do not spend too much time on their looks. Although men do not feel the same stress women do about using these products, they do purchase them and spend at least some time on their appearance. The pressure is still there to look a certain way, and men are buying these beauty products, whether or not they feel the need to hide it.